The caravan was moving steadily. The braying of the donkeys was almost as loud as the laughter from the children as the group continued down the dusty road. Suddenly, a frantic voice could be heard in the crowd.
"Jesus?! Jesus! Where are you?!"
Mary and Joseph rushed from one group of people to another but it was all in vain. Nobody had seen their Son.
Jesus was not there.
Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover like they did every year. The account Scripture gives us in Like 2:41-52 tells us that Jesus was 12 years old when they made their annual trip to the holy city. They observed the feast and were now on their way back to Nazareth.
Only Jesus could not be found.
As a mother, I have felt the paralyzing panic you feel when you can't find your child. Everything stops except for your adrenaline as you search for their face, call out their name and pray non-stop that you will find them. I notice when things are too quiet in my home, when I no longer hear the laughter or the bickering of my children. I check in on them when they are sound asleep. For a whole day Mary and Joseph traveled, assuming Jesus was with them. And after they noticed He was missing, they had to go three more days before they found Him. Can you imagine the worry and the thoughts that must have gone through their minds? I don't even want to think about the fear and anxiety I would have had if I had been in their shoes.
Finally, they found Jesus. Of course, they didn't find Him at a candy stand or toy shop. He hadn't been kidnapped and held for ransom. They found Him in the temple.
They found Him where He belonged.
Can you imagine the Facebook mom groups pouncing on this event?
"You lost your son?? Somebody should call DHS..."
"You mean to tell me, you weren't keeping a closer eye on THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD?"
"I would never be so neglectful." "Those people shouldn't be allowed to have kids."
But wait. Don't hurl a stone at Mary and Joseph. Why? Because you've missed Jesus too. We all have.
I'm going to be real honest. I've gone longer than three days under the assumption that Jesus was tagging along. I have gone about my schedule without even missing His presence.
Shameful, isn't it? But we do it. We leave our Bible untouched all week, we forget to seek His wisdom before we make a decision, we wake up and go to work and we tuck ourselves in bed at night without a second thought of our God. We too, don't miss the presence of Jesus. The Bible doesn't tell us when Mary and Joseph noticed that Jesus wasn't with them, but it does give us an interesting peek into Mary's humanity when they did finally find their Son back in Jerusalem. Mary questioned Jesus saying, "Son, why have you treated us this way?"
Do we do that? I do. I plow ahead and do my thing supposing that Jesus is right alongside of me, and then, to my dismay, when I find that He is not there, I say, "God, how could you treat me this way?" When Mary questioned Jesus, He responded with a question of His own. He asked, "Do you not know I must be about my Father's business?" Mary and Joseph had spent days searching for their Son and it never occurred to them that they should look in the very house of God. What was true 2,000 years ago is still true today: Jesus will always be about His Father's business. Jesus will always be single minded with one purpose and that is to do the work of the Father by calling all men to repent and follow Him. Jesus is not at all concerned about going through the motions and following traditions. His purpose is love and salvation and breathing life into the words on the pages of our Bibles and pouring meaning into searching hearts. Mary and Joseph found Him, not listening, but teaching and confounding the Rabbi's in the temple. For ages, the people of Israel had followed the law without understanding the God behind it. Jesus came to reveal what had been beautifully concealed in the law of God and to fulfill every word in it.
I am just like Mary. I do my Christian duty and then go home, week after week and sometimes I don't even seek out the sweet fellowship of my Savior. Then when His presence is missed, I spend a frantic amount of time looking everywhere but where He is. May you and I not miss Jesus. May we follow Him, commune with Him, enjoy Him, learn from Him and join Him in the work left to do.